Melbourne Airport

Community & partners

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Melbourne Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group?

The Melbourne Airport Community Aviation Consultation Group (CACG) is an independent forum where members exchange information on issues relating to the airport, understand and discuss concerns—with a desire to achieve improved outcomes for stakeholders—and complement other consultative arrangements employed by the airport. 

The CACG consists of local community members, delegates nominated by the Australian Mayoral Aviation Council; Victorian Trades Hall Council; Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP); Melbourne Airport Noise Abatement Committee (NAC); local government and an independent chair. In addition, meetings are attended by representatives from the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Airservices and Melbourne Airport.
When does the group meet?

The group meets each quarter, with a session at each meeting open to the public. Meeting dates and information are available here.

Has Melbourne Airport always operated 24 hours a day? And what are the benefits of operating 24/7?

Since opening in 1970, Melbourne Airport has operated 24 hours a day. This is an important competitive advantage for the airport and the state of Victoria in terms of international tourism, business and freight transportation.

The airport’s ability to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week allows for the movement of an extra two million passengers every year. This means an additional $590 million per year is added to the Victorian economy through visitor spending alone.

By 2033, the annual value of the 24/7 status will increase to an additional five million passengers and $1.3 billion directly injected into the economy by visitor spending. Spending by interstate and national visitors travelling through Melbourne Airport was $8.3 billion in 2013, increasing to $18.5 billion in 2033.

The airport’s operations directly support 14,300 jobs, which is forecast to grow to 23,000 by 2033. More than two-thirds of these jobs are held by people living in communities around the airport. The airport’s direct contribution to Victoria’s Gross State Product (GSP) in 2012 was $1.47 billion and is forecast to more than double to $3.21 billion by 2033.

Who decides whether or not Melbourne Airport can operate 24 hours per day

The Commonwealth Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, or their delegate, makes decisions on whether airports are permitted to operate 24 hours per day.

Who is responsible for monitoring aircraft noise?

Airservices is responsible for monitoring noise generated by aircraft flight at airports around Australia, including at Melbourne Airport, and ensuring any noise problems are addressed appropriately. Airservices has set up permanent noise monitoring equipment at all major Australian airports to measure aircraft noise, including in a number of suburbs around Melbourne Airport.

When any of these air monitoring stations detect a noise ‘event’, the computerised Noise and Flight Path Monitoring System can identify the flight path and altitude of every aircraft in the vicinity of the monitor at that time, as well as the general level of background noise. This system can then be used to determine whether a noise complaint is due to a particular aircraft and whether an aircraft was operating in accordance with approved flight procedures.

Airservices’ WebTrak is a web-based service that allows users to track flight activity in and out of Melbourne Airport, with information provided about each aircraft, its altitude and noise (as expressed in decibels). Webtrak is a useful resource for people interested in learning more about flight paths and noise, with information displayed in near real-time and weather updated every 30 minutes.

Melbourne Airport is responsible for monitoring noise generated by ground based activities.

How do I make a complaint about noise?

Airservices has a noise enquiry unit called the Noise Complaints and Information Service (NCIS) that manages noise complaints nationally. The NCIS can be contacted on 1800 802 584 between 9am to 5pm weekdays and complaints can also be lodged online at and via WebTrak, post and fax. 

Complaints about ground based noise can be made using the website feedback form

What is the role of the Aircraft Noise Ombudsman?

The Aircraft Noise Ombudsman conducts independent reviews of how Airservices manages aircraft noise-related activities, including:

  • handling of complaints or enquiries made to Airservices about aircraft noise 
  • community consultation processes related to aircraft noise
  • presenting and distributing aircraft noise-related information. 

For more information, visit

How is aircraft noise being managed at Melbourne Airport?

Aircraft noise at Melbourne Airport is managed in the following ways:

  • Compatible land-use planning: directing sensitive land uses such as homes and schools away from flight paths and the airport environs while encouraging compatible land uses such as industrial and commercial to locate at or near the airport. The planning mechanism to achieve this is the Melbourne Airport Environs Overlay, which aims to reduce the density of residential dwellings in close proximity to Melbourne Airport.
  • Advances in aircraft technology: aircraft today are much quieter and more fuel efficient. The noise footprint of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is used by several airlines operating from Melbourne Airport, is about 90 per cent smaller than the original commercial jets. The noise footprint of each new generation of aircraft is also at least 15 per cent lower than the aircraft it has replaced.
  • Noise abatement procedures: Airservices can direct aircraft to utilise flight paths that pass over semi-rural areas during the evening, or spread the use of all available flight paths to lessen the intensity of aircraft noise.
  • Operating restrictions to limit or reduce an aircraft’s access to the airport, for example by limiting or prohibiting noisy aircraft.

Melbourne Airport is also chair of the Noise Abatement Committee, whose role it is to review the impact of aircraft noise on the surrounding community and, in a consultative manner, make recommendations to minimise the effect of aircraft noise.

The Noise Abatement Committee meets quarterly and consists of representatives from Airservices, the major airlines, Victorian State Environment Protection Authority, Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and local councils around Melbourne Airport.

Who is responsible for monitoring air quality?

Melbourne Airport is responsible for the monitoring of ground-based air emissions—this includes aircraft movement on the ground, and airside vehicles and machinery. Air emissions under all circumstances are regulated by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Melbourne Airport maintains several air quality monitoring units in locations at or near the airport that monitor combustion pollutants and odour from jet fuel emissions. It also works closely with Commonwealth and State governments to ensure the monitoring complies with regulations.

What is the Runway Development Program?

The Runway Development Program (RDP) is part of Melbourne Airport’s plan to meet the growing demand for air travel to and from Melbourne.

About 33 million passengers passed through Melbourne Airport in 2015, and this number is expected to grow to 64 million passengers by 2033. To meet this demand, the airport will need additional runway capacity to allow for more flights, and reduce the amount of time aircraft spend on the ground waiting to depart, or in the air waiting to land.

As such, Melbourne Airport is proposing to construct a new east–west runway. If approved, the third runway will be located 2 kilometres to the south of the existing east–west runway and will be 3 kilometres long and 60 metres wide and capable of handling all aircraft types.

The existing east–west runway is also proposed to be extended from 2.2 kilometres to 3 kilometres and widened from 45 to 60 metres.

How did Melbourne Airport decide on the east–west orientation of the third runway?

The selection of the preferred east–west orientation was based on criteria that recognise the potential impacts the third runway will have on the airport, the community and the environment as well as air traffic management and safety.

The major operational and safety benefit of a second east–west runway is that it removes the need for aircraft moving to and from the terminal precinct to cross paths on the runways—as the terminal would be between the parallel runways.

With no runway crossing, there are no additional delays for aircraft waiting to cross the runways. There would also be shorter flight distances for flights as well as shorter taxiing distances and times. It also means less fuel is burnt, fewer carbon emissions are generated and there is less aircraft ground noise.

When will the third runway be operational?

The third runway is expected to be operational sometime between 2022–2024. Prior to that, it must first go through a formal planning and engagement process. The runway requires the approval of the Commonwealth Government through a Major Development Plan (MDP), which is a detailed planning document that considers the RDP’s impact on the community and the environment.

The MDP will be informed by multiple studies commissioned by Melbourne Airport covering areas such as noise, air quality, flight paths, ecology, health, and social and economic impacts. A draft MDP will be available for public comment before a final plan is submitted to the Commonwealth Government for approval.

Why are relevant environmental matters in the Runway Development Program being assessed under a major development plan and not via an environmental impact statement as per the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act?

The Commonwealth Government advised Melbourne Airport that the Runway Development Program will be assessed as a Major Development Plan (MDP) under the Airports Act 1996, which is the legislative responsibility of the Commonwealth Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. The department will seek advice on environmental matters from the Commonwealth Department of Environment, in effect ensuring the RDP is assessed under provisions of both the Airports Act (via an MDP) and section 160 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act.

When will flight paths for the third runway become known?

The final flight path design will be known about two years before the expected opening of the new runway. A flight path study will form part of the RDP MDP—this study will provide indicative flight paths for the new runway but ultimately Airservices will determine the final flight paths.

Flight paths are designed, controlled and managed by Airservices through a complex process that takes into account safety and separation of aircraft, operational capacity and noise minimisation. At this stage, Airservices forecasts that up to four new flight paths may be needed to service the new runway and maintain efficient operations.

Which direction will most flights take off and land on the new runway? East or west?

If approved, the majority of flights on the new east–west runway are expected to take off to the west and land from the east. However, it is important to note that it can’t be guaranteed that flights won’t need to take off to the east, as safety is the first priority Weather conditions will also impact flight direction.

An aircraft’s origin/destination, the wind strength/direction, air pressure, temperature, runway slope/surface and aircraft weight are all considered when determining which runway is used at different times of the day for different flights. Airservices and the aircraft’s pilot decide which runway will be used, with safety as the guiding principle.

Will there be an increase in flight activity for residents in Broadmeadows /Westmeadows /Gladstone Park with the new runway?

Yes, residents in these areas can expect more aircraft flying overhead should the proposed third runway be approved.

What impact will the new runway have on areas west of the airport?

Some impacts on areas to the west of the airport are expected should the proposed third runway be approved, however, the specifics of flight paths will be made closer to the opening of the runway.

What is the Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) system?

The Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) system has been used by airports for over 30 years as the primary metric for aircraft noise in and around airports.

ANEF contours predict the cumulative noise effect of a full year of airport operations, taking into account changes in weather patterns, aircraft movements, aircraft types and other operational factors such as hours of operation and flight paths.

The Melbourne Airport ANEF is a forecast of the noise levels of the four runways that have been planned for the airport since 1990, despite only two runways being operational currently.

ANEF contours are given in values of 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40—the higher the contour value, the greater the noise.
Melbourne Airport prepared the latest ANEF for the 2013 Melbourne Airport Master Plan—with the ANEF endorsed for technical accuracy by Airservices.

Why have the ANEF contours changed?

Noise contours can expand and contract over time due to changes in aircraft movements, forecasts, flight paths, aircraft types and runway use. The changes in Melbourne Airport’s overall ANEF contours from 2008 to 2013 are due partly to the plans for a third runway, but also due to a change in some of the assumptions previously made to develop the ANEF. This includes capacity forecasts, innovation in aircraft design and improvements in modelling.

The ANEF changes affect approximately 3,025 additional residential properties to the east of the airport and approximately 140 additional residential properties to the west. It’s estimated the decrease of the contour to the south of the airport will remove approximately 2,880 residential properties from the ANEF.

What are ‘N-contours’?

To supplement the ANEF contours and better describe aircraft noise levels, the Australian Government, in consultation with industry and the community, has developed the N-contour system. The N-contours predict the number of aircraft noise events per day—exceeding 70, 65 or 60 decibels. This will help the user to see what level of noise impact can be expected where they live into the future.

N contours indicate the number of aircraft noise events per day exceeding 70, 65 or 60 decibels.
N60 = 100 or more events exceeding 60 decibels per day
N65 = 50 or more events exceeding 65 decibels per day
N70 = 20 or more events exceeding 70 decibels per day
Night contours = 6 or more events exceeding 60 decibels per day.

80 decibels level of noise is similar to standing at the kerb of a busy city road; 60 decibels is the level of noise of a normal conversation.

Where can I find information on ANEF and N-Contours?

Melbourne Airport has developed an online noise tool that shows the approved noise forecasts (as outlined in the 2013 Master Plan). Launch the tool, enter your address and click on the ANEF and N-Contour tabs to view the noise information for your location. More information on both systems can be found in the 2013 Melbourne Airport Master Plan, specifically Chapter 12: Airport Safeguarding Strategy.

How does Melbourne Airport manage the environment?

Melbourne Airport has a number of policies and procedures to manage its environmental impact. This includes certification to the International Standard for Environmental Management Systems ISO14001:2004—which means the airport’s Environment Management Systems have been acknowledged to manage the environmental impact of its operations and are in compliance with environmental laws and regulations.

Environmental initiatives undertaken by Melbourne Airport include the following:

  • Onsite air quality monitoring.
  • Monitoring of stormwater quality at 12 sites on and off the airport.
  • Monitoring the health of the Grey Box Woodland, which is protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
  • Implementation of construction environmental management plans for selected projects with the potential to cause environmental harm.
  • Annual reporting of carbon emissions to the Commonwealth Government.

Melbourne Airport also has an Environment Strategy, which outlines the key strategies by which the airport will mitigate its impact on the local airport environment. This strategy forms an important part of the 2013 Melbourne Airport Master Plan.

How is Melbourne Airport improving access into and out of the airport?

Getting passengers, visitors and airport staff to and from the airport precinct in a timely and efficient way is increasingly important as Melbourne Airport continues to grow.

Melbourne Airport manages and funds its internal road network and is undertaking significant works to improve traffic flows and safety within the airport precinct.

Projects completed in 2015 include the following:

  • Airport Drive extension, which provides a direct link between the Western Ring Road and the airport precinct, and is projected to take 15,000 cars per day off the Tullamarine Freeway.
  • Completion of stage one of the airport elevated loop road—an elevated ramp to the new transport hub opposite Terminal 4. This is a long-term road project involving the staged construction of a single-direction elevated loop road, which will be built above existing roads and allow for intersection-free access to the terminal precinct. 

Further, Melbourne Airport supports the Victorian Government’s CityLink Tulla Widening project, which includes the construction of additional lanes and other measures to improve traffic flow between the CityLink tunnels and Melbourne Airport. This will help ease some of the congestion on the Tullamarine Freeway, which is used by 80 per cent of all vehicles to access the airport.

Does Melbourne Airport support a rail link?

Yes, Melbourne Airport supports a rail link to the airport and has made provision for a link by reserving land within Airport Drive to be used for rail.

What is airport safeguarding?

Safeguarding refers to the planning framework that helps to reduce the impact of airport operations on the community by minimising noise-sensitive developments near airports through planning and building controls.

The Melbourne Airport Environs Overlay is an important part of the safeguarding framework, and it provides guidance to local planning authorities on appropriate development around the airport so that future residents or building or facility occupants are not negatively impacted by aircraft noise.

It also contributes to the safe operation of airports by restricting certain types of developments or activities that could interfere with aircraft navigation or safety (such as tall buildings intruding into airspace or industrial activities that generate emission plumes etc.)

Safeguarding Melbourne Airport means that through appropriate planning and land use decisions, it continues to contribute to Victoria’s economic and social well-being by facilitating the growing demand for air travel while minimising impacts on the local community, especially aircraft noise.

CACG Frequently Asked Questions